Variations on a theme : Ganzen spel, Goose board or “The game of the geese.” The 16th century game you’ve likely played and the City of Cheese that made it theirs.

The “Game of the Goose” or “Goose game” is a board game where two or more players move pieces around a track by rolling a die or two dice. The track often seems to be a spiral of some description. The game originated around the 16th century, and the Dutch loved it. They couldn’t seem to get enough of that goose game. When they did they made variation after variation of it. They made special ones to commemorate events, the Battle of Waterloo (goose board) Game, the Snake, Owl, Monkey etc., (all gooseboard). Gooseboard is considered the grandaddy prototype of many of the commercial board games of later centuries. You know, the ones you used to get for Christmas and played. Once.

Cheese market c. 1935 Detail from an illustration commissioned by the cheese maker P. van Geldorp. Of Alkmaar.

Alkmaar is a city and municipality in the Netherlands, located in North Holland province. It’s renowned for its traditional cheese market & known throughout the Netherlands as the City of Cheese. It’s a popular cultural & tourist destination.

Alkmaar is mentioned here, not for its particular variety of cheese, but for its signature ganzen spel.

Goose board. The museum there holds the Collectie Regionaal Archief Alkmaar, the Collection of the Alkmaar Regional Archives. There are some nice things in it especially in regards to all things cheese, cheeses and cheesemaking, cheese festivals etc. But in the Bordspel (boardgames) section there’s evidence that this town has taken the goosegame and made it theirs.

Owned it.

They’ve been creating localised “goose board” games or variations on it for generations and a couple of them are represented here.

Bordspel stad. City goose board. Undated. Collection Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar.

“District game for young and old”, a board game with views of various
Alkmaar shops and factory buildings. In the middle is Victoria.
c. 1910. Collection of the Alkmaar Regional Archives.

Game of the Goose, anonymous, c. 1800–1899, lithograph.

Leger, oorlog. Army, war. Date unknown.
Collection Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar.

New amusing goose game, by Amand, c. 1880-1900 color-lithography.

Temple of happiness, by Jan Oortman Sr., 1816 woodcut.

A Steam tram goose board game. Haarlem to Alkmaar.
“A kind of goose board game in which every stop of the tram connection between Haarlem and Alkmaar is depicted.”
Collection of the Alkmaar Regional Archives.
“Sinterklaas” Gooseboard. No other info. Collection of the Alkmaar Regional Archives.

The. Oel Plate, Jeu de la chouette, Brepols & Dierckx & son, 1833–911 colour lithography in yellow, blue, pink with text in letterpress.

Boardgame based on professions. No other info. Collection of the Alkmaar Regional Archives.

Peace Game, Jan Vlieger, 1907, color lithography in red and blue, text in letterpress.

Goose Board. No other info. Collection of the Alkmaar Regional Archives.

Poster for the Cheese and Butter Control Station Noord-Holland in Alkmaar. Printed by L. Van Leer & Co.
Collection of the Alkmaar Regional Archives.

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